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Motif Information
Motif Kujaku 01.jpg
Rōmaji Kujaku
English Peacock
Kanji 孔雀
Kana くじゃく
Season Late spring, early summer
Seasonal Exceptions Auspicious uses
Auspicious Yes
Motif Type Bird

Kujaku refers to peafowl. Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus) were imported to Japan by the Muromachi era from China and were bred in captivity. The green peafowl is a cousin of the Indian (Blue) Peafowl (Pavo cristatus). Unlike the Indian peafowl, the Green Peafowl frequently wades and even swims in pursuit of food. Albinism is possible with selective breeding and white kujaku are not uncommon motif variations.

Kujaku as a motif on kimono became popular in the late Meiji period and rose to the peak of its popularity during early Showa. Since late Showa there has been a steady decline in its popularity. [1]

Due to habitat loss, Green Peafowl are currently classified as Endangered in Japan.

Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings

Peafowl mate in late spring or early summer, so a displaying peacock is a seasonal motif. However, kujaku are often used as an auspicious motif out of season.

Auspicious Nature

Kujaku are believed to eat poisonous snakes and plants easily. In Buddhist iconography kujaku represent the conversion of poisonous desires such as greed and anger into karmic beauty.[2]

The "eyes" on kujaku feathers were also believed to ward off evil.

Common Motif Pairings

Identification & Style Variations

Kujaku are easily identified by their long tail feathers with distinct eyes. Sometimes the feathers alone are depicted.

Kujaku are most often confused with hou-ou. Hou-ou may have similar tail feathers, but never are shown with a spread tail and often have a stylized crest on their head. If the motif is accompanied by kiri, it is most likely hou-ou.

Motif Examples

Motif in Literature & Other Usage

Where possible - try to find examples of motif in literature, art and real life. If you are unable to find an example - remove this section.

In Poetry

Article Notes

Relevant Threads / Discussions


  1. Nitani, Keiko. 着物の文様とその見方: 文様の格付け、意味、時代背景、由来がわかる. Kimono Design: An Introduction to its Patterns and Backgrounds. Seibundo Shinkosha. 2013. p.25.
  2. JAANUS on Kujaku Myouou, accessed February 4, 2013

Image Credits

  • Bika Bika
  • Gikuyu
  • Sarcasm-hime
  • SuperGrouper

Authors & Contributors

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